A Christmas Cactus plant, Schlumbergera bridgesii is one of the most popular flowering houseplants sold during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons. This cactus plant is totally different from the cactus we see growing in a hot, dry desert environment. A Christmas Cactus plant is a type of epiphyte in its native environment. Epiphytes are plants that grow on other plants, trees, and even rocks, in shady areas with high humidity.
Christmas Cactus Description
There are three different varieties of holiday cactus plants that we often confuse with each other; they are the Thanksgiving Cactus (Schlumgera truncate), the Christmas Cactus (Schlumgera bridgesti, and the Easter Cactus (Rhipsalidopsis gaertnerrii). The easiest way to tell the difference between the three cactus plants is to look at the shape of their leaves. The leaves of a Thanksgiving Cactus have pointed tips on each side of its leaf segments. The Easter Cactus, which is not even related to the other two holiday cactus plants, has very rounded leaf edges. A Christmas Cactus has smooth leaves with scalloped edges. All three varieties have stems that look like small, thick, succulentLearn the definition of a succulent plant and why they are called a "fat plant.", leaf-like pads that are attached to each other, and all produce colorful flowers around the holiday they are named for.
How to Get a Christmas Cactus to Flower
A Christmas Cactus, Thanksgiving Cactus, and an Easter Cactus are phototropic plants, also called “short day” or “long night” plants. They develop buds and flowers only when the days are short (less than 12 hours of light). A Christmas Cactus and a Thanksgiving Cactus require at least six weeks of short days and an Easter Cactus requires about 8-12 weeks of “short days.”. Chrysanthemums and poinsettias are also “short day” plants.
Thanksgiving Cactus Easter Cactus Purple Christmas Cactus Christmas Cactus Flowers
A Christmas Cactus plant is an easy care, flowering plant that can live for 100 years, often passed on from generation to generation. Follow the care tips below and, with each passing year, watch your Christmas cactus get more beautiful.
Buds drop off a Christmas Cactus without opening because of over-watering or severe under-watering, insufficient light, excessive heat, or the air is too dry.
There are several reasons why a Christmas Cactus doesn’t produce an abundance of flowers. The first is over-fertilization: stop feeding a Christmas Cactus in October if you want it to bloom for the holidays. Light & Temperature: a Christmas Cactus is a Photo and Thermo-tropic plant. Starting 8-10 weeks before the Holidays, Christmas Cactus Plants need 12-14 hours of complete darkness, cool temperatures at night, and bright light during the day. Proper light and temperature help set the buds on a Christmas Cactus Plant. Once the buds have formed, move your Christmas Cactus to an area that has bright indirect light.
After a Christmas Cactus has finished blooming, water less often so that the soil dries out more. Allow the Christmas Cactus to rest for a few weeks, and then cut off a few segments from each stem. Pruning a Christmas Cactus shortly after it has finished flowering helps the plant become bushy and full. The segments you cut off can be used to propagate new plants.
Use a good succulent plant potting soil for Christmas Cactus when it’s time to re-pot. Don’t be in a rush to move a Christmas Cactus to a larger container, they like being a little root-bound. The new container should be only one size larger than the current container and have drip holes in the bottom.
The best way to get dust off the leaves of a Christmas Cactus is to place the plant in the sink and gently spray it with warm water.
The best way to propagate a Christmas Cactus is by using stem tip cuttings in the spring.